God So Loved the World - John Stainer
For some reason, and especially during this time of quiet. various music has been popping into my head, unsolicited. As a musician, this is not surprising, There is always something playing in there - usually whatever I’ve been practicing recently. But this piece comes from from long ago, from my young days singing in my hometown church choir. I have learned over time that when God puts something in my head, He wants me to listen.
The lyrics for this anthem are from the King James version of John 3:16-17:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
What better way to help us get through this crisis than to set our sights on the everlasting life that God promises through His salvation!
Though John Stainer (1840-1901) composed much music for the church, he is mainly known for this one short work. God So Loved the World is part of a 20-part cantata, “The Crucifixion,” which includes five hymns for congregational participation. The cantata, and his music in general, is not widely celebrated today, but this one piece has stood the test of time and has remained a staple in church choral repertory for more than a century.
I was fortunate to recently discover a wonderful piano adaptation of the choral work by composer/arranger Larry Shackley. I have included both the original choral version and piano arrangement here.